Tag Archives: relationships

Cobblers Column: Persistence

For the Matchday programme for tonights game against Hartlepool United.
It was certainly an exciting end to our last home game, against Exeter, ten days ago. The second half performance was, in my opinion, excellent, and but for a good performance by the 19-year-old Exeter goalkeeper, Christy Pym, the winning margin could have been a lot more. But credit to our lads who stuck at it, and wave after wave of attacking pressure finally paid off with Marc Richards’ acrobatic winner. This was the third last-minute goal we have scored so far in this campaign and has been followed up by an excellent away win at Dagenham.

I’m sure this sort of persistence will stand the team in good stead as the season progresses. But this makes we wonder: What might this attitude look like in other aspects of our lives? If we want to be good at something, clearly we need to put the time in to practice and keep the effort up. When we see an amazing piece of skill on show on the pitch, like Marc’s bicycle kick, it is certainly the result of talent, but it is also the result of a lot of behind-the scenes hard work. Practice makes perfect, as they say. And in sport, the results of practicing are there to see. But what about at work, at home, or in our relationships?

For things that matter, it is worth stopping every so often to assess whether what we are putting in to them is giving us the result we want. And if not, what do we want to change? For many of us the question will come down to where we spend our time – does this accurately represent the priorities we have in our lives?

In our church this autumn, a few couples are committing to set aside time to talk to their partners about a different aspect of their relationship each week for seven weeks – like an MOT for relationships. At it’s core, it is simply an investment of time into the most important relationship of their lives – a distinct period set aside to listen and talk to one another. Participants would like their relationships to last the distance, and are therefore being persistent in their efforts along the way. Looking at couples who have been happy in their relationships for many years, it is safe to assume that they have put the work in over the years – to overcome obstacles, re-evaluate expectations and make some new common priorities.

There may be a similar analogy in our work lives too. Where do we want to go? In this case, being persistent may mean looking at the long game. It may result in re-prioritising aspects of our work, or even stopping to analyse what we want out of our careers. Do we need to change jobs, retrain in another field. In either, persistence is key.

Against Exeter the persistence of the players paid off. Today I’m hoping it will do the same – but before the 89th minute please, to save all of our nerves!


Love and Marriage

Every week I read the postsecret blog – an art project of postcards that people send in revealling their deepest secrets. This is my favourite.


Love is not accidental, it is not random, it is not by fate or by chance. It is intentional, an act of the will as well as the heart. I feel so happy for whoever sent this.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.  It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.  Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. (1 Cor 13:4-7, NLT)

Online networking ‘harms health’

“Social networking sites should allow us to embellish our social lives, but what we find is very different. The tail is wagging the dog. These are not tools that enhance, they are tools that displace.”

via BBC NEWS | UK | Online networking ‘harms health’.

There is no substitute for real relationships.

Marriage and self-giving (Anna Karenina)

I finished reading Anna Karenina a week or so ago. It is a big classic Russian novel (translated into English) written by Leo Tolstoy in the late 19th century – pre communist Russia. The novel follows the lives and loves of two families, Levin and his wife Kitty, and Anna Karinina, her husband Alexey, and her lover, Count Vronsky. In the telling Tolstoy takes in the grand theories of his time about land ownership, farming, politics and family values.

I want to look at the issue of marriage. In the marriage service in the UK, the couple say to each other these words: “all that I am I give to you, all that I have I share with you“

They give themselves to each other. Giving has always been a part of marriage, whether it is families giving their children in marriage, or individuals giving themselves. But the point is the same, in the giving, the couple no longer belong to themselves, but to each other. What was mine becomes ours. What is good for me becomes ‘is it good for us?’. There are shared possessions, shared ideals, shared dreams, shared goals, shared happiness and sadness.

In the book, Kitty initially rebuffed Levins proposal. After a stay away watching a friend look after an elderly and difficult relative – seeing love in action – Kitty understood the ‘given-ness’ of love. Levin and Kitty marry do everything for each other, and are happy. Difficulties do come along. Levin’s brother lay sick and dying and Levin wanted to visit alone, but Kitty insisted on coming. Her support for Levin and care for his brother as he died taught them both about love and was an example of self-giving. Similarly, when a person comes along who threatens to come in between them, they discuss it and decide to ask this person to leave. The marriage was too important for anything to get in between them. The threat is removed. They self-givingly live for the benefit of each other. This is love.

By contrast Anna: near the beginning of the book, Anna is swept off her feet by Count Vronsky. She had never truly had feelings for her husband, whereas in Vronsky there was passion, excitement and what she thought was love, so she leaves Alexey for him. However, as their relationship progresses things deteriorate. Firstly it is little annoyances. Then she is shunned by society and loses her friends. All her worth now rests on Vronsky, and no man is up to that. She starts to become suspicious, accusing, and eventually destroys the relationship and herself.

In that relationship, the given-ness of marriage was not there. They fell into the mistaken thinking that love is about excitement and passion. They were in it for the passion they could get out of it. There was no given-ness, only the expectation of what they could receive from each other. When these impossible ideals were not met, the relationship imploded.

Love involves giving. Marriage is a public declaration and commitment of giving to the other.  All that I am I give to you, all that I have I share with you. In giving ourselves to the other, relationships are set on a firm foundation of a safe and stable place of love that always looks for the benefit of the other first.